By David Marks
The purpose of this page is to list all the common varieties of Cos lettuce available in the UK which can be grown from seed. The list below, with accompanying pictures and descriptions, is in alphabetic order not order of merit or preference.Cos lettuce have upright leaves with the outer ones being green and the inner ones frequently blanched to a lighter colour to form a crispy heart.

Any classification such as this is open to interpretation although the varieties listed below are generally held to belong to the Cos type


Balloon Cos lettuce


– and old variety which grows larger than many other Cos varieties. The leaves have a red tinge to them at maturity.

Available from Simpsons Seeds.

Chatsworth Cos lettuce


– Very upright leaves with lots of crunch to them. Mildew resistant with a compact shape and lovely shiny leaves. Awarded an AGM by the RHS

Available from Marshalls.

Dazzle Cos


– described often as a red variety of Little Gem but the heads are far looser. Looks good.

Available from Shoot Gardening.

Exbury Cos


– an open hearted (referred to as batavia) Cos with cherry red leaves of a distinctive shape developed by Tozer Seeds. Very good resistance to mildew. Looks particularly good in a salad.

Available from Nickys Nursery.

Cos lettuce Frisco


– a looser head compared to other Cos varieties but a commercial favourite so it must have lots going for it. Good choice for resistance to bolting.

Available from Thompson and Morgan


Little Gem

– RHS AGM, compact plant, crisp centre. One of the most popular for the UK gardener because of its disease resistance, superb taste and its reliability.

Available from Nickys Nursery.

Cos lettuce Lobjoits Green

Lobjoits Green

– RHS AGM, compact plant, crisp centre. This variety dates back to the 1950s and has self-closing leaves which ensure a good heart.

Pandero lettuce


– turns red at a very early stage of development making it an excellent choice if you are interested in micro-vegetables and want a red variety. Awarded an RHS AGM.

Available from
Moles Seeds.

Parris Island lettuce

Parris Island

– an old variety with some excellent qualities. Quick growing it’s ideal as a pick and grow with lots of green leaves but also develops a full heart. Good disease resistance. Awarded an RHS AGM.

Available from Packet Seeds.

Tintin lettuce


– similar to Little Gem but slightly larger. Lovely crisp hearts and dark green outer leaves. The leaves are more crinkled than normal giving a bit extra texture. Of the less well known Cos types, this is our favourite.

Available from

Butterhead lettuce Tom Thumb


– A rival for the well established Tom Thumb variety. Unrivalled has the advantage that it withstands autumn cold better and with cloche protection can be grown into winter.

Widely available.

Valmaine lettuce


– A light green Cos with lots of crisp leaves. Ideal for salads and sandwiches, cut the leaves and watch them grow back. Resistant to downy mildew so ideal if conditions are on the damp side.

Available from Simpsons Seeds.

Winter Density lettuce

Winter Density

– a superb variety which stands the cold better than almost all other varieties. Either sow as normal in spring or, in warmer areas, sow in early October for an early spring crop.

More open than many Cos lettuces, the leaves have a sweet flavour. This variety dates back a couple of hundred years.

Available from Marshalls.